New York Mets 2024 Season Preview

The New York Mets enter 2024 with less expectations than last year, but they still have enough talent to be competitive in the National League.

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Pete Alonso #20 celebrates with teammate Francisco Lindor #12 of the New York Mets after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

The New York Mets have been riding the roller coaster over the last couple of seasons, with plenty of extreme highs and painful lows under the ownership of Steve Cohen. In 2022, the Mets soared to the top of the league, winning 101 games to tie the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Unfortunately for the Mets, their 2022 season was colored at the end by losing a pivotal series to the Braves that cost them the tiebreaker and ultimately the division, and then a quick exit from the playoffs in the Wild Card round only made matters worse.

On the heels of their great season, Cohen backed up the brinks trucks and added to the roster in a big way, retaining top free agents Edwin Diaz and Brandon Nimmo, while adding to Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana to pair with Max Scherzer in the Mets rotation.

Expectations were sky-high for the Mets in 2023, but the loss of Diaz in the World Baseball Classic was a precursor (or a bad omen) for things to come. Despite having two future Hall of Famers atop the rotation, the Mets could never get things on track during the regular season.

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Come the trade deadline, the Mets made the difficult decision to sell, trading away seven players headlined by Scherzer and Verlander in hopes of accelerating a rebuild with their farm system.

Now, with a much-improved farm system, the Mets have turned their attention to seeing what they have with some of their young players in house before signing another free agent to a long-term deal. The one free agent they heavily pursued this offseason was Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

When they couldn’t land Yamamoto, the Mets turned their attention towards signing players on one-year deals to hopefully contend in 2024, without constricting themselves financially at all beyond this year. This is the plan new President of Baseball Operations David Stearns put in place, as a means of staying competitive this year, with an eye more pointed towards becoming a sustainable winner in the future.

With a new front office and a new manager, the Mets bring back a retooled version of the core they have had for the last few years. Many holdover stars are still in place, as the Mets look to finish somewhere between their 101-win team of 2022 and their 75-win club from a year ago.

Projected Starting Lineup

1. Brandon Nimmo – LF1. Brandon Nimmo – LF
2. Francisco Lindor – SS2. Francisco Lindor – SS
3. Pete Alonso – 1B3. Pete Alonso – 1B
4. J.D. Martinez – DH4. J.D. Martinez – DH
5. Jeff McNeil – 2B5. Jeff McNeil – 2B
6. Francisco Alvarez – C6. Francisco Alvarez – C
7. Starling Marte – RF7. Starling Marte – RF
8. Brett Baty – 3B8. Mark Vientos – 3B
9. Tyrone Taylor/Harrison Bader – CF9. Harrison Bader – CF

When looking at the projected lineup I have made above, there are a few important distinctions we should really make:

  • Harrison Bader and Tyrone Taylor won’t be in a strict platoon like I have outlined above, but they will be in a bit of a time-share in center field. Bader has really drastic splits that favor left-handed pitching, so he should be in the lineup against all lefties.
  • Taylor won’t start against every righty, but his career splits are about even, so he can start against tough righties that Bader does not match up well against.
  • Mark Vientos and Brett Baty could platoon at third base to protect Baty from left-handed pitching, but it is still unclear how much the Mets will trust Vientos defensively at third.

UPDATE: March 22nd

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We have had to make some adjustments to our Mets season preview, as they have signed a new designated hitter at the 11th hour, landing J.D. Martinez on a one-year deal.

We broke down the addition of Martinez at length in a full article you can find here, where we dive into the great impact J.D. can have on the Mets lineup and how his signing impacts their young core, particularly Mark Vientos.

Original Post: Now the top-six in the Mets lineup might not be put in that exact order, but they are the everyday players who will really decide how good the offense is this year.

Brandon Nimmo has been remarkably consistent over the past two seasons, hitting exactly .274 in each year with over 150 games played per season. Where Nimmo did improve last year was in the power department, mashing a career-high 24 homers.

The one area where Nimmo regressed some was defensively in center field. Now thanks to the addition of Bader, Nimmo is set to move into a corner in left field, where his defense should play back up again. The Mets hope that their outfield defense is a big point of improvement this year that helps take this team to another level when it comes to run prevention.

Francisco Lindor is coming off two-straight six-win seasons, with last year being the first in his career where he went 30-30 with home runs and stolen bases. Lindor was playing with a bad elbow last season and still found his way to those 30 home runs and played great defense at shortstop.

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Now completely healthy, Lindor is gearing up for his age-30 season where he will once again prove to be one of the best shortstops in all of baseball.

Unlike Lindor and Nimmo, who are both under long-term contracts with the New York Mets, Pete Alonso is entering his walk-year and will be a free agent after this season. Alonso has never hit less than 37 home runs in a full season. Expect him to put up crazy video game numbers this season as he plays for his new contract.

Starling Marte is a real x-factor for this team, as he was playing through injury last year and saw his production fall of a cliff. Early reports on Marte’s health have been very good, with the Mets expecting a return to form for the 35-year-old.

Jeff McNeil is another Mets starter who is looking to bounce back this year. The Mets utility-man won a batting title in 2022, but fell off to hit just .270/.333/.378, with a 100 wRC+ in 2023.

Francisco Alvarez is a prime candidate to become a breakout star for the Mets this season. In his rookie season, Alvarez hit 25 home runs and posted strong defensive metrics for his pitch-framing. Alvarez has showed up to camp looking much-improved at controlling the running game and has the potential to hit 40 home runs in a full season.

Already a top 10 catcher in baseball, Alvarez could become an All-Star for the first time in 2024.

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The other young players set to take large roles this season are Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. Neither is coming off a good rookie season, but both are going to be given every opportunity to establish themselves as big league regulars in 2024.

Baty is the one with the higher upside, as he was a top 20 prospect in baseball heading into last season. The 24-year-old is entering a pivotal year if he wants to still be considered the Mets third baseman of the future.

Projected Bench

Omar Narvaez, Tyrone Taylor, Joey Wendle, DJ Stewart

When Omar Narvaez first signed with the New York Mets prior to the 2022 season, it was to be their starting catcher and eventual bridge to Francisco Alvarez. Unfortunately for Narvaez, a pulled calf last April sent him to the IL early, and Alvarez was promoted to take his place and never looked back.

Now with Alvarez again set to start, Narvaez has been relegated to a backup catcher role. Still regarded as one of the better defensive catchers in baseball, the Mets pitching staff will be in good hands anytime Alvarez needs a blow.

Meanwhile Joey Wendle and Tyrone Taylor each give the Mets a sure-handed glove that they can play anywhere in the infield and outfield respectively. Wendle was signed on a one-year, $2 million deal in free agency and Taylor was acquired in a trade, along with RHP Adrian Houser.

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Wendle is coming off a few rocky years spent in Miami with the Marlins, particularly last season, where he was worth a -0.8 fWAR. With that said, Wendle is two years removed from being a 3-win player with the Tampa Bay Rays.

While both Wendle and Taylor are being rostered for their gloves, Taylor at least has some pop in his bat to leave optimism that the best is yet to come for him offensively.

The 30-year-old has a career .451 slugging percentage and has homered at least 10 times in each of the last three seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. He also has never made an error in his five-year career in the big leagues.

Finally, the last bench spot is expected to go to either Ji-Man Choi or DJ Stewart, giving the Mets a left-handed bat off their bench who could take some at-bats from Mark Vientos at DH.

Projected Starting Rotation

1. Jose Quintana – LHP1. Kodai Senga* – RHP
2. Luis Severino – RHP2. David Peterson* – LHP
3. Sean Manaea – LHP3. Jose Butto – RHP
4. Adrian Houser – RHP4. Max Kranick* – RHP
5. Tylor Megill – RHP5. Joey Lucceshi – LHP
*Will start the year on the IL

The New York Mets starting rotation took an early blow when Kodai Senga had to stop his throwing program early in spring with a balky shoulder. The prognosis was not too bad, a posterior capsule strain, which required rest and a PRP injection.

Senga is expected to make a full recovery, and in the words of President of Baseball Operations David Stearns, “make a lot of starts” for the Mets this season. The only issue is that camp is about to break next week and Senga has not resumed throwing.

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Assuming Senga can begin to ramp up around Opening Day, the earliest we can expect him back in the Mets rotation is in the middle of May, with a more likely timetable potentially being early June.

In the meantime, the Mets are left with Jose Quintana and Luis Severino to headline their rotation, with the veteran Quintana being awarded the honor of starting on Opening Day.

Last year, it was Quintana who was held back from throwing in spring training as he dealt with a rib injury that required surgery. The left-hander did not return to the Mets until the middle of July, only a few weeks before New York would deal their two aces at the deadline.

Quintana fared well pitching for a Mets team that was completely out of the race in the second half. He made 13 starts and pitched to a 3.57 ERA in 75 2/3 innings. If the Mets can get that level of consistency over a full season, they will take it from their 35-year-old de-facto ace.

On the other hand, Severino is the real upside arm to watch in the Mets rotation, but one that comes with plenty of risk. Last year was a disaster with the Yankees (6.65 ERA), which is why he was forced to sign a one-year, prove-it deal with the Mets.

Still, Severino is only a year removed from pitching to a 3.18 ERA across 19 starts and 102 innings in his first full season coming back from Tommy John in 2022. Now a few years removed from the surgery, the Mets are hoping Sevy can reclaim some semblance of his prior frontline starter form over a full season.

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Another offseason signing by the Mets was left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea, who is coming off a solid season as a swingman for the San Francisco Giants. Manaea added a few ticks to his fastball last year, which started to pay real dividends in the second half, when he pitched to a 3.43 ERA over 60 1/3 innings pitched. The left-hander also added a sweeper, which was very effective as well.

Finally rounding out the Mets rotation are a pair of right-handed arms how may not present the highest of upsides, but at least should be ready to eat some innings for New York. Adrian Houser was acquired in the same trade with Tyrone Taylor, coming from Stearns’ old team, the Brewers.

Houser has pitched to an ERA of exactly 4.00 across his career and has totaled over 100 innings in each of the last four full seasons. Megill is coming off setting a career-high with 126 1/3 innings pitched last season, where he pitched to a 4.70 ERA. He did fare a bit better in the second half.

Ultimately the Mets have enough depth to deal with the loss of Senga early, but this rotation lacks any true frontline starters that can fill his void. None of their starters is too bad, but collectively, the unit leaves a lot to be desired. The Mets are hoping that with some good defense, they can help these pitchers produce ERAs that are lower than expected.

Along with missing Senga, the Mets are also without their highest upside homegrown MLB starter in David Peterson. The left-hander is coming off a rocky season, but some of that could be attributed to a hip injury that required surgery this offseason. Peterson has struck out over 26% of the batters he has faced over the last two seasons.

Finally rounding out their depth starters, Jose Butto seems to be the first man up if the Mets elect to go to a six-man rotation or need a spot starter before Senga returns. Butto has put together a good camp and is coming off a season where he pitched to a 3.64 ERA in a limited sample (42 IP).

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Projected Bullpen

1. Edwin Diaz – RHP
2. Adam Ottavino – RHP
3. Brooks Raley – LHP
4. Jake Diekman – LHP
5. Drew Smith – RHP
6. Jorge Lopez – RHP
7. Shintaro Fujinami – RHP
8. Michael Tonkin – RHP
9. Sean Reid-Foley – RHP
10. Yohan Ramirez – RHP
11. Phil Bickford – RHP

The Mets have a lot of options competing in camp for the final two spots in their bullpen. At the top though, there is far more certainty

Closer Edwin Diaz has returned after missing all of the 2023 season due to the torn patellar tendon he suffered during last year’s World Baseball Classic. Diaz is completely healthy and should reclaim his spot atop the mantle as being the best reliever in baseball for 2024.

Meanwhile Adam Ottavino was re-signed to continue to set-up Diaz, along with veteran left-handers Brooks Raley and Jake Diekman (who was also signed this offseason). Drew Smith returns for his final season before becoming a free agent, and Jorge Lopez signed on a one-year deal as well.

In Lopez the Mets hope they can get a return to form from a pitcher who was an All-Star closer for the Baltimore Orioles back in 2022.

Of all the other options the Mets have to fill out their bullpen, the most eye-catching one is Shintaro Fujinami. The hard-throwing Japanese right-hander signed with the Mets for $3.35 million this offseason, despite the fact that he pitched to a 7.18 ERA in his first MLB season in 2023.

The Mets are hoping they can harness his fastball, which touched 103 MPH last season and played much better coming out of the Orioles bullpen. There is a lights outs reliever somewhere inside Fujinami if he can figure out his command, but his contract includes minor league options that allow the Mets to take their time with him until he does.

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Top Prospects Who Could Help in 2024

The 2024 season has been described as a bridge year for the Mets, in which they would like to contend, but also need to prioritize getting the chance to see what they have in their organization.

That begins with the rookies from last year, with Alvarez, Vientos and Baty set to play big roles for the Mets from the start of the season. As the year wears on though, the Mets will be calling up plenty of prospects from their system, who could play a pivotal role in 2024 and into the future.

Nate Lavender: Not your typical top prospect, because relief pitchers are hardly ever considered top prospects, but Nate Lavender made a name for himself in spring training this year.

The 24-year-old was drafted in the 11th round back in 2021, and is entering his third full year in the Mets organization. Across his minor league career, Lavender has pitched to a 2.32 ERA with 165 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings pitched.

Last season, Lavender pitched to a 3.27 ERA, with 67 strikeouts across 44 innings pitched in Triple-A. During spring training, Lavender made three perfect appearances where he struck out seven of the nine batters he faced without allowing a walk or hit.

Still not on the 40-man roster, Lavender was already reassigned to minor league camp, but don’t be surprised if he is up with the Mets early this season when they have a need in their bullpen.

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Luisangel Acuña: When your brother is the reigning NL MVP, and you have been traded for a future Hall of Fame, your name sort of precedes you. That’s the case with Luisangel Acuña.

Already on the 40-man roster, Acuña could find himself up any time the Mets have a need in their infield. Similar to how Alvarez was called into action last season. With that said, the Mets are not going to rush Acuña’s development either.

Acuña finished last season and Double-A and will open the year in Triple-A for the first time. How quickly the 22-year-old adjusts to that level will determine when we see him up with the big league club in Queens.

He’s not going to hit with the same power as his brother, but he has the same ability to use his speed to swipe bases (57 SB in 2023). Defensively, Acuña has primarily played shortstop in his minor league career, a position he is more than capable at, but will likely settle into being a well-above average defensive second baseman with Lindor in place for the Mets.

Drew Gilbert: The other big piece the Mets got at last year’s deadline, Drew Gilbert will open the season in Triple-A Syracuse with Acuña and could be in line for a promotion if he gets off to a hot start. The 23-year-old plays with a great motor and has all the tools to be a plus defender in either center or right field.

Gilbert had a fantastic finish to his season last year after being traded into the Mets organization. Across 35 games played in Binghamton, Gilbert hit .325/.423/.561, with a 167 wRC+. He is not on the 40-man roster yet, but very well could be a fixture in the lineup come the second half, depending on the health and performance of their current crop of outfielders.

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Jett Williams: Currently the top prospect in the Mets system after a fantastic 2023 season, which saw him start the year in Low-A and finish in Double-A at just 19 years old. Williams will open up the 2024 season in Double-A again, having played just six games at the level at the end of the year.

Williams has split his time between shortstop and center field so far in his career, and will likely still continue to do so, while maybe working in some time over at second base as well. Williams has the athleticism to thrive at any position, and uses his speed well on the bases.

Plate discipline is the real separator for Williams, as he posted walk rates around 20% at both Low-A and High-A last season. Power will never be a huge part of Williams game, but he could run into 20 home runs as he continues to develop his game power.

Williams is supposed to be a year away from reaching the show, with 2025 being the more likely arrival time for the 20-year-old. With that said, don’t count out Jett when he has all the ability to force the Mets hands, just two stops away from getting the call.

Christian Scott: The biggest riser in the Mets system last year, Christian Scott went from a fringe top-20 prospect to being widely considered the top pitching prospect in the entire system. Elite control is what has scouts suddenly taking notice of Scott, who posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than nine-to-one across 62 innings in Double-A last season (2.47 ERA).

Scott has a great fastball that has gotten plenty of whiffs up in the zone, giving him a weapon to use in any count. How he compliments his fastball is what will determine how good Scott can be. The addition of a sweeper has many excited about what they are seeing with Scott in camp.

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With a good start to the season, Scott could force his way into the big league rotation in a hurry.

Mike Vasil: Another top 10 prospect in the system who will start the season in Triple-A, Mike Vasil can be considered big league depth for this season. Vasil made 16 starts in Syracuse last season, where he pitched to a 5.30 ERA.

While his results weren’t great in Triple-A, the Syracuse Mets play in a brutal league to pitch in, so you can take those ERA numbers with a grain of salt. The Mets like Vasil’s potential a lot, and due to his previous work in Triple-A, there is every chance he finds his way up to the show first before Scott.